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NBA Summer League Losers - Forwards: Nikola Jovic, Trevelin Queen, Caleb Houstan

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A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who find themselves in a bad situation. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. On the other hand, rostering players in perfect situations can be the ultimately league-winning move for savvy fantasy GMs.

Today, let's talk about some potential busts and sleepers that have been part of the Summer League tournaments held in early-to-mid July. For whatever reason -- be it talent, lack of opportunity, chances to rack up minutes, good and bad environments, etc-- these are players who fantasy GMs are currently buying at too high or too low ADPs this early in the preseason and who should be kept under the radar to track their progress in training camps as we each closer to the regular season's tipoff.

Let's look at some forward-eligible players that could be potential busts this year in fantasy basketball leagues who appeared in July's Summer League tourneys and explore their situations going forward.

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Summer League Losers: Forwards - 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball

Caleb Houstan, SF - Orlando Magic

There'd be a difference between Paolo Banchero (no. 1 pick) and Caleb Houstan (no. 32) underperforming in Summer League ball. The former would have started to get bust calls, but the latter would have flown under the radar anyway. That's what is happening (with Houstan; Banchero was sublime) a little bit with most folks--let alone fantasy GMs--not giving a damn about C-Houstan.

The Magic are deep-rebuilding, but even then, Houstan was never going to be a feature player any time soon for Orlando. There is Franz Wagner, Paolo, Terrence Ross, Jonathan Isaac (when/if he comes back), and even Chuma Okeke. The wings are packed, is what I'm saying.

Houstan didn't help his chances just one bit this July, putting up a measly 8-4 line in 29+ MPG while appearing in four games for the Magic and getting as many as 117 total minutes of playing time. That is, sadly, the worst stat package among SL guys with 100+ minutes. Houstan was disappointing and then some. He only found a break in his debut game when he went for a 20-6 line with 58.3/55.6/100 shooting splits. Fade Houstan and let him marinate for the year.

Nikola Jovic, SF/PF - Miami Heat

Even though Jovic was picked seven picks later than Branham (read below), it can be said that the European product was the most disappointing of rookie forwards. Miami--namely, Pat Riley--drafted a Euro kid for the first time ever, and Jovic is coming to the NBA with a serious amount of hype attached to his name but he never found a way to showcase it in the Cali Classic or Las Vegas.

After straight sucking against the Lakers and the Kings to kick his summer off (combined line: 9-7-1 with 2 TO in 38 minutes), he got things right for once against the Warriors starting at SF, playing 29 minutes, and finishing with 25 points and nine boards. The shooting was good with the man going 9-of-16 overall, 5-of-7 from three, and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, but that was it. Another stinker in Vegas in the Heat's first game wrapped up his SL stint.

It was always going to be hard for Jovic to break into the Heat starting lineup from the get-go, of course, but looking at Miami's depth chart, there is a glaring need for a fresh PF to pop up the ranks: Chris Silva (!!!) is the team's PF1. Jovic might find his way there, or maybe he gets traded in exchange for Kevin Durant, or any other crazy scenario you can think of develops. In any case, I'd not pay much attention to Jovic for the following weeks and months--and the whole season, probably.

Malaki Branham, SG/SF - San Antonio Spurs

There is a real chance Branham breaks through the Spurs rotation and finds his way to start games as soon as early next season. At the end of the day, San Antonio is a bona fide tanking franchise with its eyes locked on Victor Wenbanyama and the 2023 draft, so it's not that losing games hurts them. Branham, though, didn't take full advantage of the Summer League chance he got and kinda dropped the ball.

Branham wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but he could have put himself clearly above Devin Vassell/Josh Richardson in the pecking order and it didn't look like that's the case for now at least. Branham exits Las Vegas with an average 15-3-1 line and his 42.3% three-point shooting as his main calling card. Perhaps the Spurs don't ask him for much more next season, but fantasy GMs would and they'd grow disappointed.

Last year, San Antonio had Dejounte Murray as the go-to player and a legit fantasy asset. This season, though, the roster is too rough to make a solid prediction and pick someone that would play above all others and help fantasy GMs in any viable way. Doug McDermott? Keldon Johnson? Maybe big man Jakob Poeltl? Looks like a very ugly place to place any type of bet.

Jaden Springer, SG/SF & Trevelin Queen, SF - Philadelphia 76ers

Springer appeared in a couple of NBA games last season. Queen played 10 for Houston but his true accolades came at the G League level with him snatching the league's MVP trophy last year. In the ongoing effort by Daryl Morey to put the late-10s Rockets together in Philly, Queen is joining Springer in the Cheesesteak City along with James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House.

Anyway, all of that noise might have turned you into a believer of all-things Sixers. Give that some pause, though. Both Springer and Queen are barely fourth-string players in this team, third-unit reserves at best with the odd second-unit appearance here and there if injuries/rest force issues. They logged more than 110 minutes each this past SL, appearing on seven (Queen) and four (Springer) games but averaging low 12-4-3-1 and 11-3-2-1 lines respectively against the similar-level competition they faced.

Those are not the worst outcomes ever, of course, and both players did what their team predicates: shoot the hell out of the three-point line. Queen and Springer averaged 11+ 3PA per game in the SL, the only Sixers to do so, both scoring 3.3+ 3PM a pop too. That's perhaps the only thing they will provide your fantasy team with on-spot appearances here and there through regular-season games. Other than that, you can clearly fade this pair of guys.

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